Will more kids be charged as adults in Minnesota? (5×8 – 11/18/10)

1) BOYS TO MEN TO PRISON

Most of the stories surrounding the new Republican-dominated committees at the Minnesota Capitol are about inside baseball — the national pastime of politicians. But here’s one real societal change that will likely come as a result of it: More children who commit crimes will be tried as adults.

For several years, Republicans have tried to get “Emily’s Law” passed, only to have it languish in a DFL-dominated committee. The bill, filed by Rep. Bud Nornes and Rep. Torrey Westrom, is nicknamed after 2-year-old Emily Johnson of Fergus Falls, who died a day after she was sexually assaulted and then thrown against a wall by the 13-year-old son of the daycare provider. The bill would allow more juveniles who commit crimes to be tried as adults. Currently, no one under 14 in the state can be so tried. (Here’s a News Cut post I wrote about the issue in 2008)

“He’s allowed to go to high school, now,” her mother said yesterday of the man — then a boy — who killed her daughter.

On Wednesday, Westrom was appointed to chair the Civil Law Committee in the House. “We’re praying this is the year it’ll pass,” Lynn Johnson said.

The topic comes up because of the arrest of a Twin Cities teenager, who is charged with killing two convenience store clerks in Iowa on Monday. Michael Swanson will most certainly be tried as an adult. But the Star Tribune reports his crime record goes back to age 13.

In Iowa, meanwhile, the Des Moines Register reports that one of the women who was killed may have saved the life of another woman by sending her home from work early.

2) SCANNER SCARE

Are the new X-ray machines in airports safe or not? This assessment on the Discover Web site is the best read on the subject yet. Bottom line: You pays your money and you takes your chances.


The basic risk of x-ray exposure isn’t the only worry. Back in May, Brenner pointed out that x-ray damage does not hit all passengers equally.

Recent research, Brenner says, indicates that about 5 percent of the population — one person in 20 — is especially sensitive to radiation. These people have gene mutations that make them less able to repair X-ray damage to their DNA. Two examples are the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations associated with breast and ovarian cancer, but scientists believe many more such defects are unknown. “I don’t know if I’m one of those 5 percent. I don’t know if you’re one of those 5 percent,” Brenner says, “And we don’t really have a quick and easy test to find those individuals.” [NPR]

Furthermore, the UCSF researchers write in their letter, older passengers are more susceptible to mutagenic effects of x-rays, and “the risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appears to have been fully evaluated.”

The topic brings us to today’s Tweet of the Day (so far):

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3) IS MARRIAGE OBSOLETE?

Four in 10 people say marriage is obsolete, according to a new poll today from Pew Research. Americans are less likely to be married now that at any time in the nation’s history.

And yet, a majority of people say single women having children is “a bad thing.”

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Defending marriage: A New Jersey pastor says adultery and Facebook go hand in hand.

4) REAL MINNESOTA

Meet the real Minnesota Twins from Dexter.

5) MYSTERY MISSILE

We now have proof that the “mystery missile” off the California coast last week was, as some experts claimed, a jet contrail. An image from space captured the contrail, proving that it wasn’t something going up, it was going sideways, apparently at the same altitude.

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Bonus: Fox boss: NPR execs are Nazis. The overuse of the allegation of being a “Nazi” in recent years has taken most of the sting out of what it means to actually be a Nazi.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE DAY

I first passed this along on Monday, but now that it’s embeddable, here:

TODAY’S QUESTION

The University of Minnesota is in the process of selecting a new president. Today’s Question: If you ran the University of Minnesota, what three things would you do to make it better?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Posting may be a little thin this morning. I’m spending it with a journalism class at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: One of the great challenges for educators is the widening achievement gap between students of different races and different economic backgrounds. The directors of two charter schools join Midmorning to discuss their efforts to close that gap and create a culture of achievement among minority and low-income students

Second hour: When popular public figures fail us with a faux pas or massive mistake, some lose face and disappear from sight, but a special few are more resilient. How are these redeemed able to polish their image back up and should the public forgive them at all.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Nina Archabal, the longtime director of the MN Historical Society who is stepping down.

Second hour: Live broadcast from Westminster Town Hall Forum. David Eisenhowe talks about his new book about his grandfather, President Dwight Eisenhower.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Michael Korda on his new biography, Hero. It’s the story of Lawrence of Arabia.

Second hour: Balancing privacy and security on the airport security line.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - U of M regents publicly interview Eric Kaler, the sole finalist to succeed president Robert Bruininks. MPR’s Tim Post is covering the event.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding “The overuse of the allegation of being a “Nazi” in recent years has taken most of the sting out of what it means to actually be a Nazi.” Or conversely, kinda like the use of the term “hero” for anybody with the capacity to sign their name on the line and put on a uniform? Or “civilian contractors” instead of mercenaries? Or “advanced interrogation techniques” for torture?Orwell must be proud. Maybe you could do a piece sometime on the history of the media – Public media included – being co-opted by government propaganda newspeak.